One South Africa Movement (OSA) leader Mmusi Maimane has accused President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as African Union (AU) Chairperson, of failing to “protect human rights” in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
Maimane made the accusation in a letter to International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Nalendi Pandor on Tuesday.
He wrote, “Until this point, current AU Chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa, has failed in implementing the AU’s mandate to ‘promote and protect human rights on the continent’ as per Article 3(h) of the Constitutive Act of the AU.”
There have been widespread protests in Zimbabwe over the past several days against corruption and economic stagnation. Opposition groups and activists have criticised the government’s apparent heavy-handed response.
At least 11 activists, including renowned author Tsitsi Dangarembga and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere, were arrested on Friday last week as they demanded the release of investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono. They have since been released.
Maimane asked Pandor to issue a démarche (protest note) on Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi, against what he termed “flagrant human rights abuses by the ZANU-PF-led government in Zimbabwe.”
The démarche should “demand a full explanation” from the ambassador and a “commitment to ending these atrocities at once,” the ex-Democratic Alliance (DA) leader said.
In a televised address earlier on Tuesday, embattled Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa blamed “destructive terrorist opposition groupings” and “dark forces both inside and outside the borders” for Zimbabwe’s challenges.
Maimane called on the South African government to “speak out” against ZANU-PF’s “violent, inhumane and undemocratic actions.”
“As a leader in the SADC region, South Africa cannot turn a blind eye to such atrocities. Quiet diplomacy allows injustices to continue unabated. Now is the time for South Africa to regain its moral voice on the continent and denounce such actions perpetrated by the Zimbabwean government,” he wrote.
Julius Malema Zimbabwe comments
Maimane’s letter adds to Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) leader Julius Malema Zimbabwe comments made on Monday via Twitter.
He called for the “removal” of Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa until “they restore human rights in that country,” adding that if this does not happen, the EFF would prevent Zimbabwean government officials from participating in gatherings in South Africa.
The EFF waded deeper in Zimbabwe news in a statement that described the embassy and ZANU-PF leaders as “paranoid and misguided.” It accused the Zimbabwean government of declaring the people “enemies” and deploying the military to “suppress genuine protest.”